Taylor v. Board of Ed. of Cabell County

Decision Date11 March 1969
Docket NumberNo. 12733,12733
Citation152 W.Va. 761,166 S.E.2d 150
CourtWest Virginia Supreme Court
PartiesE. W. TAYLOR et al. v. The BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the COUNTY OF CABELL, a corporation.

Syllabus by the Court

Under a noncontributory pension or retirement plan a retired pensioner has a vested right to a payment that has accrued and has become due and payable and such vested right to such accrued payment can not be reduced, disturbed or impaired by any subsequent legislation; but such vested right does not attach to future payments that have not accrued and the character and the amount of such unaccrued future payments may be modified, changed, increased or reduced at any time by action of the pension authority which creates the pension or retirement plan or system in changing or modifying it to accomplish any such result.

Baer, Napier & Hamlin, W. Robert Hamlin, Huntington, for appellant.

Ddrill & Dodrill, Huntington, Eagle & Eagle, Hinton, for appellees.

HAYMOND, President:

In this civil action instituted in the Circuit Court of Cabell County June 19, 1964, the plaintiffs, E. W. Tyalor, a retired supervising school principal, E. A. Hyldoft, Irvin L. Siebert, Agnes Patterson, Blanche H. Dodrill and Carrie L. Gordon, retired school teachers of Cabell County, seek to recover certain pension or retirement benefits which they assert are due and owing to them by the defendant, The Board of Education of the County of Cabell, a corporation. Upon the complaint, in which the plaintiffs allege that they are members of the teachers retirement system of this State, are retired and have received benefits from that retirement system, and are entitled to receive retirement allotments in specified amounts from the defendant from funds realized from duly authorized levies by the defendant for the years 1960 to 1964, inclusive, and the answer of the defendant, in which it denied any liability for the payments claimed by the plaintiffs, the Circuit Court of Cabell County, after a pretrial conference on September 25, 1964, at which it was agreed by the parties that the court should decide the matters of law upon the pleadings and render judgment accordingly, held that the defendant was under an implied contractual obligation to make the pension payments claimed by the plaintiffs and filed an opinion to that effect on June 11, 1965.

The parties were unable to agree as to the amount to which each of the plaintiffs was entitled, and by order dated March 4, 1966 the circuit court referred the matters in question to a special commissioner for the purpose of taking evidence and making recommendations as to certain stated requirements. These requirements, being five in number, were that the commissioner should determine the formula in effect for the computation of county pension payments to retiring employees of the defendant upon the retirement dates of each of the plaintiffs, the amount the defendant was obligated to pay monthly as a supplemental pension beginning on such retirement dates, how much was paid by the defendant to the plaintiffs as supplemental pension payments after their retirement dates, what amounts the plaintiffs are entitled to recover from the defendant, and the date from which the plaintiffs are entitled to recover in this action.

At the hearings conducted by the commissioner in June 1966 the plaintiffs, E. W. Taylor, Blanche H. Dodrill and Irvin L. Siebert, testified concerning the supplemental pension plan established by the defendant sometime prior to July 25, 1949 and in effect at the time of the institution of this action, and R. F. Brooks, Assistant County Superintendent of Cabell County Schools, testified in behalf of the defendant concerning the supplemental pension plan and the amounts to be paid to the persons entitled to benefits under the plan and the change made in the plan after July 1, 1959. Upon the testimony of the witnesses and certain exhibits the commissioner reported, among other matters, that the formula in effect when the plaintiffs retired or were eligible to retirement provided as base pay benefits for the plaintiff, E. W. Taylor, as of the date of his retirement on July 1, 1955, a monthly base pay from the State of $42.35, excluding any State increases, and a monthly payment from the supplemental pension plan of $47.65, to make his total retirement pay on that basis $90.00 per month; for the plaintiff, E. A. Hyldoft, as of the date of his retirement on June 1, 1958, a monthly base pay from the State of $7.50, excluding any State increases, and a monthly payment from the supplemental pension plan of $52.50, to make his total retirement pay on that basis $60.00 per month; for the plaintiff, Irvin L. Siebert, as of the date of his retirement on June 1, 1955, a monthly base pay from the State of $44.35, excluding any State increases, and a monthly payment from the supplemental pension plan of $15.65, to make his total retirement pay on that basis $60.00 per month; for the plaintiff, Agnes Patterson, who was eligible to retire prior to July 1, 1959 but who actually retired February 1, 1961, as of the date of her retirement on February 1, 1961, a monthly base pay from the State of $35.03, excluding any State increases, and a monthly payment from the supplemental pension plan of $24.97, to make her total retirement pay on that basis $60.00 per month; for the plaintiff, Blanche H. Dodrill, as of the date of her retirement on April 1, 1956, a monthly base pay from the State of $30.01, excluding any State increases, and a monthly payment from the supplemental pension plan of $29.99, to make her total retirement pay on that basis $60.00 per month; and for the plaintiff, Carrie L. Gordon, as of the date of her retirement on June 1, 1957, a monthly base pay from the State of $46.79, excluding any State increases, and a monthly payment from the supplemental pension plan of $13.21, to make her total retirement pay on that basis $60.00 per month; and that the plaintiff, E. W. Taylor, was entitled to recover $2287.20; the plaintiffs, E. A. Hyldoft, $2174.40; the plaintiff, Irvin L. Siebert, $751.20; the plaintiff, Agnes Patterson, $724.13; the plaintiff, Blanche H. Dodrill, $1439.49; and the plaintiff, Carrie L. Gordon, $940.33.

By its judgment rendered February 17, 1967, the circuit court overruled the exceptions by the defendant to the report of the special commissioner, confirmed the report and rendered judgment in favor of each of the plaintiffs against the defendant for the foregoing amounts. The amounts of which judgment was rendered for each plaintiff, except the plaintiffs Taylor, Hyldoft and Siebert, were computed from the date of the retirement of each to June 30, 1963 less any payments previously made which, as to the plaintiffs Dodrill and Gordon, were $1169.64 and $24.00, respectively. As to the plaintiffs Taylor, Hyldoft and Siebert, the payments were computed for a period of forty-eight months from July 1, 1959 to June 30, 1963, and each of them has been paid the allowance to which he was entitled prior to July 1, 1959.

By its final judgment rendered May 9, 1967, the circuit court overruled the motion of the defendant to grant it a new trial; and from that judgment this Court granted this appeal upon the application of the defendant.

The State Teachers' Retirement System was established in 1941 by the Legislature of West Virginia by Chapter 18, Article 7A, Code, 1931, as amended, Section 2 of which article contains this language:

'Nothing in this article shall be construed to preclude any employer from providing retirement benefits to retired teachers not eligible to benefits under this article; nor shall it be construed to preclude any employer from supplementing retirement benefits to be received by any of its employees under this article.

'No such benefits, however, shall be paid to a present teacher who elects not to become a member of the teachers' retirement system.'

Pursuant to the permission provided by the foregoing section of the statute the present supplemental pension or retirement plan has been created and maintained by The Board of Education of the County of Cabell.

The record does not contain any copy of the by-laws or rules and regulations which apply to and govern the supplemental pension plan of the defendant and does not disclose the requirements and qualifications to entitle retired teachers subject to the plan to participate and receive pension or retirement benefits. Though the record does not disclose the ages of all of the plaintiffs it does show that each of them has served as a teacher or a supervising principal for more than thirty years and the eligibility of each of the plaintiffs for benefits under the supplemental pension plan is not questioned or challenged in this proceeding. The controlling question is not that the plaintiffs are not entitled to a pension but the proper formula by which the amount of their pension may be determined and paid.

As previously indicated from 1949 until July 1, 1959, the formula under which the supplemental pension plan was operated was that any retired teacher would receive from the plan the difference between the monthly base pay which he received from the State Teachers' Retirement Fund, excluding increases from the State Retirement System in 1953 and 1957, and $60.00 per month for a retired teacher and $90.00 per month for a retired supervising principal. Sometime after July 1, 1959 but effective from that date, the defendant changed the formula by basing the retirement benefits of all teachers upon Option A of the State Teachers' Retirement System which provided for the highest retirement benefits. Under the new formula effective July 1, 1959, the payment of benefits from the supplemental pension or retirement fund to which a retired teacher or supervising principal is entitled, regardless of the option under which the teacher or supervising principal had...

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4 cases
  • Wagoner v. Gainer, 14827
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1981
    ...the contributions by employees are compulsory and those in which the contributions are voluntary." Taylor v. Cabell County Board of Education, 152 W.Va. 761, 767, 166 S.E.2d 150, 153 (1969). The court below concluded, and the appellants do not dispute, that the retirement system in question......
  • Campbell v. Kelly, 13350
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • February 5, 1974
    ...it. True, they may have an expectancy to participate in the fund when otherwise qualified.' See Taylor v. The Board of Education of the County of Cabell, 152 W.Va. 761, 166 S.E.2d 150 (1969); State ex rel. Fox v. Board of Trustees, 148 W.Va. 369, 135 S.E.2d 262 We therefore hold that Articl......
  • Kinsey v. Adkins
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • December 21, 1973
    ...Rudolph v. United States, 55 App.D.C. 362, 6 F.2d 487, 40 A.L.R. 1042. This Court held in the case of Taylor v. Board of Education of the County of Cabell, 152 W.Va. 761, 166 S.E.2d 150, that the general rule is that a pension granted by a public authority is not a contractual obligation bu......
  • State v. Vines
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • March 11, 1969
    ... ... by the grand jury attending the Intermediate Court of Kanawha County for the offense of unlawfully and feloniously making or causing to be made ... ...

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